Elaine Bensted

Chief Executive

Elaine Bensted is Chief Executive of Zoos SA which operates both Adelaide and Monarto Zoo.  Elaine reports to the Zoos SA Board, elected by members of the society, and is supported by a strong senior management team.

Prior to her appointment as Chief Executive, Elaine held the position of Chief Executive for TAFE SA and preceding this held senior roles in both state and local government.  Elaine has also worked in the private finance sector, within human resources and training management, operation and project management and bank branch manager roles.

Elaine’s qualifications include an MBA and a Masters in Public Policy and Management.  Elaine also holds qualifications in accounting and finance.

Outside of her work with Zoos SA, Elaine is also a member of the Nature Play SA Board.

Elaine is married with an adult daughter and is the proud long-time owner of German Shepherd Dogs, while her favourite zoo animals are wombats, cheetah and Red Pandas.

I see it as a privilege, honour and huge responsibility to lead such an iconic organisation which is delivering on such a critical mission.  I enjoy working with immensely passionate staff and volunteers in an amazing work environment with a lot  of opportunities for “wow” moments that no other job could ever provide”

Sarah Brown

Director Community Engagement

Sarah Brown has been working with Zoos SA since 2006.  As the Director Business Operations, Sarah’s responsibilities include visitor experience, tourism, volunteer programs, marketing, fundraising and education.

Sarah has over 20 years experience in the not-for-profit and local government sector, having worked extensively in events, product development and customer service.  Prior to joining Zoos SA, she was the Valley Visitor Information Centre Manager.  Sarah has also held positions for the Adelaide Festival Centre, ACHA Health Foundation, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and various local governments, while also holding a Bachelor of Social Science.

Sarah has worked and resided in regional areas throughout South Australia.

“It is such a dynamic place full of adventure and discovery, amazing staff, incredibly generous volunteers – to have the opportunity to be immersed in conservation action every day is very humbling. I have fond memories of the zoo as a child and it’s exciting to be part of it as an adult.   A favourite of mine is D’artagnan the curlew – his haunting call sounds especially wonderful in the evening.”

Peter Clark

Director Monarto Zoo

Director Life Sciences, Peter Clark first joined Zoos SA in 2003 and now oversees the organisation’s animals, assets and capital expenditure.

Peter has over 30 years of wildlife experience, with his previous roles including working with wildlife businesses (butterfly and crocodile farming), environmental education and zoos in Papua New Guinea.

Peter attended Roseworthy College and his community involvement includes participation in Rotary and various community, conservation and sporting committees.

Peter is married with two daughters and three grandchildren and has a love of the sea, fishing, insects and Africa.  He is passionate about breeding Birds of Paradise, Tree kangaroos, Birdwing Butterflies and other exotic animals. He also has a particular soft spot for Hyenas.

“Looking to the future and making new and exciting projects happen.”

Leonie Murphy

Director People and Performance

As the director of People and Performance, Leonie is responsible for designing, developing and maintaining innovative and effective Human Resources and workplace health and safety for Zoos SA.

Leonie has held positions across an number of not-for-profit and corporate organisations, including the City of Tea Tree Gully, Royal District Nursing Service, Australian Red Cross, Alzheimer’s Australia and SA Water.

She thrives in an engaged business and enjoys building trusting relationships to establish a positive and engaging working environment through the utilisation of human resource generalist, organisational development and change management skills. Leonie also holds an Associate Diploma in HR.

Leonie has two young daughters who are extremely proud that their mum works at the zoo and is actively involved in their sporting activities at East Marden.  She holds a particular soft spot for the Golden Lion Tamarins.

“I love the passion that Zoos SA staff have for the animals and our environment and the friendly nature and openness of our workforce.”

Darren Hastings

Director, Corporate Services

Darren joined Zoos SA as Director, Corporate Services in August 2016. His responsibilities include financial and risk management, information technology, corporate policy development and strategic planning.

Darren has over 25 years’ experience in a range of finance and governance roles in varying industries including banking, public practice, manufacturing, aviation and international social development. Prior to joining Zoos SA, he was Chief Financial Officer for Scope Global where he oversaw financial compliance, risk mitigation, and contract management for the company’s Australian and overseas operations.

Darren has also held positions at Penrice Soda, Cobham Aviation Services, Hi-Fert and Bank SA. Darren has a Bachelor of Commerce and is a member of CPA Australia.

Darren is married and has a daughter who enjoys hearing about the sights and sounds experienced while working at the zoo. He enjoys travel and cycling, and is particularly fond of the otters.

“Since joining Zoos SA, I have been humbled to see the commitment that each employee, volunteer and supporter shows in supporting the objectives of the organisation.“

Les Jones

Director Property & Development

Les joined the team at Zoos SA in March 2017 as Director Property and Development and brings to the Zoo significant knowledge and experience in Master Planning, Capital Development, Project Management and Infrastructure Management.

Prior to working with Zoos SA Les worked for both not for profit organisations and commercial enterprises.  Since 2005 Les has focussed involvement with not for profit organisations in Tourism, Aged Care, Retirement Living and Disability sectors. Leading strategy and operations Les has been responsible for whole of business master planning, development & capital works project management and facilities/infrastructure management.

Les considers it a privilege to continue working in the not for profit space and support the aspirations of Zoos SA strategy in its master planning objectives and infrastructure management.

Dr Phil Ainsley

Director Life Sciences, Adelaide Zoo

Phil joined Zoos SA in 2013 as the Conservation Programs Manager working across both Adelaide and Monarto Zoos, before moving into a Curator role overseeing conservation, birds, reptiles and native species.  He was recently appointed as Director Life Sciences at Adelaide Zoo.

Phil trained as a Bioengineer receiving degrees at both Flinders and Adelaide University, worked in the forestry industry in New Zealand before returning to Adelaide where he spent over ten years as a senior manager and conservation biologist with the Department of Environment and Water.

Phil was fortunate to grow up spending much time at Adelaide Zoo in the footsteps of his father who worked in the reptile section for nearly 20-years.  This fostered his passion and interest in reptiles and nature more broadly.  A highlight has been re-establishing Zoos SA’s Pygmy Bluetongue conservation program which resulted in the first captive breeding of a species presumed extinct until 1992.

Phil is married and has three sons who all love spending time visiting both Adelaide and Monarto zoos.  A family favourite is Aonika, Adelaide Zoo’s Aldabra Giant Tortoise.

“I am truly honoured to have the opportunity to lead the Life Sciences team at Adelaide Zoo, working with an amazing team of people and collection of animals.  Every day I remind myself what a privilege this is.  I look forward to seeing Zoos SA continue to develop, grow and strengthen its position as a leader in the zoo industry.”

She may look small now, but this little one is drinking 16 litres of milk a day and is set to double her size withi… https://t.co/hMLmJhxxez

About Zoos SA

Zoos SA is a not-for-profit conservation charity that exists to connect people with nature and save species from extinction.

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